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robfloresrobflores Posts: 14Pro
Hey guys, I currently have a MXL 990 microphone(I'll be upgrading soon). I feel like it is a really bad mic. I feel like it really compresses the sound of my voice and it can't handle volume. Can microphones make you sound worse than you are? I like the way I sound through my Voice Recorder on my phone better than through the 990. It is the cheapest mic you can buy. What do you guys think?


  • 10 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 9,927Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 9,927Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    edited February 2014 Vote Up1Vote Down


    I have never tried any of the MXL mics.  Mics today are fairly high-tech compared to days gone by, but if you think the mic stinks, you may very well be right. 

    The microphone needs to sound good.

    With recording, you are definitely in a situation of Garbage in, Garbage out. 

    Ken has a vintage Neumann mic that he takes with him to the studio for all of his recordings.  That should tell you something about the importance of a good mic.  It's the first element in the recording chain.  Each mic has its own characteristic sound.

    I've corresponded with a number of recording engineers that are fairly happy with the Rode line of mics.  That said, their cheaper versions are probably cheaper for a reason.  I would advise you to go to a big music store or audio store and do side-by-side comparisons, with the preamp or mixer settings set the same as you try different mics and listen through good headphones. 

    You may have to spend several hundred dollars to get what you're looking for.  There are some mics I'd like to get my paws on that cost several thousand dollars.  I think Ken's mic is in that category.

    You get what you pay for in a mic, and if you want your voice to record sounding like a million bucks it's going to cost you a bit. 

    Then there's the preamp that the mic plugs into.  Again, quality preamps are the next important thing in the signal chain, and they really do matter. You can get some that sound good, and you can get some that sound great.  Affordability can range from a few hundred, to again into the thousands. 

    All that taken into consideration, I think you could shop around a bit and make a significant upgrade over an entry-level MXL without breaking the bank. 

    In the end, you can put an expensive mic on a voice that doesn't sound good, and it still won't sound good.  Once we get our voices sounding really good, we want to find recording equipment that helps our voice to sound its best on recordings.


  • I recommend picking up Rode NT1 (this year's new edition) if you want cheap but good mic because of natural sounding mids. If you got more money I suggest you Neumann TLM 102 -> it's AWESOME on pretty much every male voice. I have Avantone CV-12 too and it's really great sounding mic when you sing with low/medium volume (soul or pop ballads), when you sing loud or scream at this mic it compresses the sound and makes it thin and tiny, so then you sound like you have no power in your voice. As a vocalist with very loud and dynamic voice (the gain knob is always around 7-9 o'clock when 6 is silence) the neumann tlm 102 was really the choice for me -> it really opens up the sound, the sound is crystal clear, true sounding,  and its max spl level is very high (144dB). I tried many other mics at the local music store (a couple of Rode's, Shure, Audio Technica, sE Electronics, even Neumann TLM 103 ( which sounded a little too bright and agressive) and I record other vocalists daily so I know what I'm talking about...  :) Cheers
  • Sennheiser 935/945 for live performance. Beautiful sound...
  • I use a wireless Sennheiser 835 but I am considering upgrading. I recently tried the Sennheiser 945 (as billthebaldguy mentioned), and I LOVED it!! Seemed to cut through the mix better than my 835.
  • @cgreen

    Slightly off-topic, but as someone personally who's still just "performing" for friends/family, the whole topic of the soundman makes me nervous in terms of when I actually get on a stage. I've been to so so many small-stage gigs, as an audience member, with a rock-band where the mix just sounds absolutely awful. Typically everything will be too loud in general, and the vocals will be drowned out by the battering of cymbals.
    Other than finding a drummer capable of restraint, I'm curious as to how the process with the soundman works. Do you talk to him/give him instructions beforehand - maybe arrange some sort of hand signals to communicate with mid-gig if needed - or do you just get on with it and hope for the best?
  • I'm speaking about my mic in particular, into an audio interface. It seems to really squeeze the sound. It doesn't sound open. I sing REALLY loud lol and it seems to pic up zero resonance. I'm not talking about being in key or any technical singing stuff. Just that my mic seems to not capture any resonance or natural reverb. it sounds like its deadening or dulling the sound of my voice. It could just be me. I'll let you guys know when I pickup a Rode nt1a.
  • It's an MXL 990 condenser mic(super cheap came with the monitor package) into a Focusrite saffire 6 USB interface into my laptop running audacity or studio one then out to 2 rokit 6 monitors. The mic is literally the cheapest mic ever. It comes with every beginner studio package lol.
  • Rode Nt1 for recording and SM58 for live performance. Period. Cheap and quality mics. When you see 15kUS mics its because they got something special, more character, etc, not because of the quality itself.

  • Anyone running a DAW or recording into a computer capable of using VST or AU plugins.

    I have been using an extremely flat mic which can be morphed to mimic very expensive, top level studio mics. For recording basics for benchmarking your progress, the flat mic is perfect reference. If you are recording in a small studio and want "that sound", it does that as well! Check out the VMS-1 from Slate Digital. It does what it says it will do! I love it!

  • Sennheiser 935/945 for live performance. Beautiful sound...

    Awesome Bill, I'm currently saving up for a Sennheiser E945! I've heard so much about it, that I think it'll be the perfect match for what I need. The Neumann TLM102 just isn't in the same bang-for-the-buck bracket.
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